A Scurry of Baby Squirrels

Did you know that a group of squirrels is a ‘scurry’? I had to look that up. A ‘dray’ of squirrels is also correct, but scurry fits the bill.

baby squirrels in box

Chip and Dale: A Twosome

Late last year a friend put me in touch with a squirrel rescue group, Injured and Orphaned Wildlife.  They take in orphaned squirrels and care for them till they are ready to be released into the wild. They’ve called me twice to make arrangements to release the squirrels in our back garden. They want to re-release the squirrels into neighborhoods with established squirrel populations. Yup, we qualify!

squirrel nesting box

Ann arrives with the nesting box

Ann came by Saturday morning and left a nesting box of six young squirrels. The first two darted out of the box and raced up the tree and over the fence. I watched for a while from our bedroom window. One of the squirrels left the box and ran up the fence, but the cat netting (a barrier we use to keep our cats safely inside the fence) confused him. Instead of running along the fence to freedom, he froze in place…for over ten minutes. Poor little thing.

squirrel hanging on to fence collage

I’m not budging till it’s safe

The remaining two or three kept us entertained all afternoon. They poked their heads out of the box, then jumped out. Back in they went, then out again.

squirrel on top of box

Finally, the braver of the two (or three, it was really hard to tell) climbed up the side of the compost netting, into the orange tree and up to the top.

squirrel in garden

I’ll just be on my way

By dusk there was only one squirrel left in the box and he didn’t want to leave. Ann said to bring the box off the ground once it got dark, so I moved him to higher ground and faced the box toward the fence. That seemed to be all he needed to leave his wooden home, and off he went exploring the garden.

We have hundreds of photos and video of these squirrels. I’ve pared it down to a respectable number to share. I feel like a first time mom hanging on to every precious little picture of her offspring.

squirrel eating cucumber

Nom-nom-nom…Ann brought some cucumber

squirrel eating cucumber in box

Bashful? Hiding behind a slice of cucumber

I’m also a little worried. These squirrels are used to people, though their rescuers do their best to keep them ‘wild.’ One of the six squirrels, however, is brave. Too brave. I’ve startled him twice (both times eating tomatoes) and he just glanced in my direction. He was breathing heavily, but he didn’t run away. I hope that part of it is simply the folly of youth. It’s not that I want them to be afraid of us, just that I know they need a certain savvy to make it in the wild.

In any event, all eyes were on the garden this weekend as we peered through windows and doors and occasionally ventured outside.  For the second time in a month I’ve had the enormous pleasure of interacting with nature. It’s extraordinary.

Just for Fun:

Mike propped his iPhone between two books and set the camera to time-lapse. This 28 second video is actually 28 minutes in real-time. No sound, just half a minute of crazy fun.

Five Little Squirrels: Welcome to the Neighborhood

three baby squirrels

Three of the six baby squirrels, September 2, 2014 Photo courtesy of Jessica B.

A few months ago my friend Jessica rescued half a dozen baby squirrels. Two young boys in her neighborhood found them on the ground and brought them to her for help. The squirrels were small, eyes still closed, and unable to survive in the wild on their own. Jess contacted a rescue group who took them in, but they needed a place to release them once they were old enough to be on their own.

Guess whose arm shot up in the air?  Pick me, PICK ME.

I called Connie who works with a few other home-based volunteers the following day. The rescue group, Injured and Orphaned Wildlife, said it would be a few months before the squirrels were ready. They would be in touch when the babies could survive on their own. They want to re-release the squirrels into neighborhoods with established squirrel populations. We definitely qualify.

Last night I got the call. The volunteer asked if she could release them in our garden this morning?

Ann arrived around 10:30 with five young squirrels in tow. They traveled in a wooden nesting box, encased in a larger plastic crate ready to move in to Gardening Nirvana.

the squirrels arrive

The squirrels arrive in the garden

She placed their nesting box under our orange tree and scattered handfuls of fruits and vegetables nearby. After lifting the top of the wooden nest, we stood back and waited.

squirrel nesting box

Placing the nesting box under the orange tree

lifting the lid, vegetables nearby

Ann scatters vegetables nearby, then lifts the lid to the nesting box

They remained huddled together, poor little things, breathing heavily and trying to burrow to the bottom of their cozy box.

five squirrels

Five huddling squirrels

Ann said that once one of squirrels leaves the box, the others usually follow. In our case, two of them shot out within seconds of each other, and raced to the safety of nearby shrubs.

I'm out of here

I’m out of here. One of the first two squirrels to leave the nest

The remaining three hunkered down. I watched for half an hour, but reluctantly had to leave for appointments. Ann asked me to call her if they were still in the box at nightfall. If so, she would return and secure the nesting box to a tree. By mid-afternoon, they had vacated the box. We’ve watched from inside as they explore the garden. What joy!

three trembling squirrels

Three trembling squirrels

I’m grateful for all the caring hearts that brought this to fruition: the two young boys who knew the tiny squirrels needed help, and my friend Jess for taking them in and contacting a rescue group. Special thanks to Connie who takes in these rescues and Ann who delivered the nesting box, with the care and wisdom of someone that’s rescued critters for over 30 years.